While free agency officially begins July 1, it might not be until days or weeks after that LeBron James and/or Paul George make their respective decisions. The Los Angeles Lakers have positioned themselves to chase after both All-Stars.
Although the front office has maintained there’s a possibility of making a splash in 2019 free agency, it’s widely believed their first goal is to sign a pair of max-level free agents this summer. For more than a year George was considered by many a lock to return to his hometown.
But after a season spent with the Oklahoma City Thunder, that no longer is believed to hold true. George has never hid his affinity for Los Angeles and the Lakers, but he’s also raved about the Thunder organization on numerous occasions.
That George might re-sign with the Thunder is an idea that extends beyond Oklahoma City, as James and his representatives reportedly doubt he will wind up leaving as well, per Sam Amick of USA Today:
Even with the Thunder coming just two losses away from missing the playoffs, and then falling to Utah in six games during their first-round matchup, there is all sorts of optimism in Oklahoma City that George will re-sign. Conversely, there’s pessimism in James’ camp that George would leave Oklahoma City.
If George does re-sign with the Thunder, it may put a significant dent in the Lakers’ quest to sign James. While James has said family will factor into his free agency decision, so too will basketball matters.
Set to enter his 16th NBA season, the 33-year-old remains focused on regularly competing for a championship. James explained he doesn’t have much interest, if any, to join a rebuilding or younger team that is still building from scratch.
While the Lakers have reason to believe in the development of their young core, it’s the type of situation James doesn’t appear keen on joining. That could change, however, if L.A. is able to swing a trade for disgruntled San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard.
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